Yum Peaceful Cooking: May 2011

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

SoCal Quiche

A.K.A.....BLT w/ Avocado Quiche. For reals. All of the ingredients of one of the most popular sandwiches wrapped up in one pie plate.

Just for the record...my oldest child doesn't like quiche.

Except for this one.

She was amazed..."Mom! I don't even LIKE quiche, and this is really good."

Through the Taste Maker Program with Foodbuzz.com, I was one of  the lucky recipients of a case of avocados from the California Avocado Commission.

Last week I received an email saying the avocados were on their way. I got home from work that evening and Poof! There they were....all snug in cozy, just waiting for me.

Being the avocado loving family that we are....I don't think I need to tell you how exciting this was.

The avocados were pretty hard when they arrived (which was last Thursday) and with Memorial Day weekend just around the corner, I wanted to showcase these babies. In order to speed up the ripening process, I popped them into a brown paper bag and sure enough....by Sunday, they were perfect for my BLT with Avocado Quiche.

SoCal Quiche
Printable Version

Pastry for 9" one-crust pie (I added some shredded Parmesan cheese to mine)
4 eggs
2 cups half and half
1 lb bacon, cooked and chopped
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 handful arugula
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Pinch or two cayenne pepper
1 or 2 Avocados, sliced
1 tomato slice
1 handful grape tomatoes, cut in half

Preheat the oven to 425' F

Prepare your pastry and line your 9" pie plate with it.

Beat the eggs and  half and half. Add the bacon, cheese, onion, arugula, salt, pepper and cayenne. Pour into your prepared pie plate.

Which reminds me...the pie plate I used, for the very first time, was one that I had received from CSNStores.com. It was a Paula Deen Stoneware Pie Plate. What a great addition to my kitchen essentials! Not only is it beautiful, but man...is that baby DEEP! No worries about anything spilling over the top as I was placing it in the oven. (have you ever had that happen? man, what a mess it can be!)

Decorate the top with the tomatoes and avocado slices.

If you don't want to do that...just chop it all up and mix it in with the rest of the goodies. Sprinkle the top with a little pepper if you'd like.

Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat down to 300' F and continue baking for another 30 minutes or so. If the crust is getting too dark, just cover it with a strip of tin foil. To test for done-ness, insert a knife halfway between the center and the edge. If the knife comes out clean, then its done. If not...back in the oven it goes.

Allow the quiche to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

And there you have it....a great breakfast quiche. Perfect for a Sunday brunch, a family gathering...or a side for an afternoon bbq.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Sloppy Jose

Nope...it's not a type-o. I didn't make a sloppy joe.

What you're looking at is Joe's south of the border cousin, Jose.

Not only is this baby packed with amazing flavor, but it takes a fraction of the time and effort typically used to make homemade sloppy joes. 

Sloppy Jose
Printable Version

1 lb Mexican chorizo, casing removed
1/2 lb ground turkey
1 small onion, diced (I actually used 1/4 of a sweet vidalia onion)
1/2 cup beef broth

Mexican Chorizo. Let's think about this for a minute. The chorizo I'm talking about is not dried. It's not hard like the Spanish version. It's a "fresh" chorizo. When you remove the casings, you are left with a minced meat that is reddish in color and packed to the hilt in flavor. Not long ago, I made my own. A beef version so that my youngest child would eat it (she's not a pork fan). It's not difficult if you have access to the various chilies that go in it. If you're interested....check out my Beef Chorizo. Anyway...the point is, you want minced, crumbly, flavorful meat. Not chunks of sausage.

So, get some chorizo and cut the casings away and squish the meat out into a well oiled hot skillet. Add the turkey and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked. Add 1/2 cup beef broth and simmer until desired consistency.

Serve on a roll and enjoy with a side of nachos.

That's it. No extensive lists of ingredients. Minimal preparation. Fabulous results.

This recipe is being shared with:


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Beef Tortilla Soup

I am fairly new to the whole tortilla soup thing. As a matter of fact, I've only recently had my first ever bowl. (recently means....within the past year.) So you'd think, being so new and all, that I'd stick to the rules.

Think again.

When I looked in my freezer for dinner ideas, I found a big ole bag of beef broth and a beef tenderloin. Both needed to be used pretty quickly. Now mind you, I normally wouldn't use a beef tenderloin for soup.....but I was in the beginnings of a yucky head and chest cold. I needed soup. That I could taste. And with all the flavors and spices and heat in tortilla soup....it fit the bill.

What threw me for a loop was....when I Googled 'beef tortilla soup'...all I found were recipes that used ground beef.

I don't know about you....but the idea of ground beef in my soup did not appeal to me in the least. Maybe if they were made into meatballs or something.....but my mind was set in "shred" mode. So...I closed Google. Referred to My Tortilla Soup recipe for guidance and went for it.

Fever and all.

Results? Wonderful! Lots of flavor that even my congested-self could enjoy.....and it totally hit the spot. It was just what the doctor ordered.

What I have below is an extensive recipe...not hard. But the extra steps, I believe, add an incredible depth to the soup itself. There are some short cuts that you can use. If that's what you prefer, than I totally encourage you to do so. I'd rather you take a few short cuts and enjoy the soup than not at all. After I give the how-to's, I'll tell you how-to cut the steps down.

Well...let's start with the beef. If I had a roast, leftover or otherwise, I totally would've used it. But I didn't. What ever cut of beef you have on hand (about 2 lbs is enough)...make a rub as follows: 

1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 TB garlic
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp Mexican oregano (or regular oregano)

Mix together, rub all over the meat and cook as appropriate for the cut. Keep in mind that the above measurements are not exact or set in stone. Alter according to your own taste. 

Once the meat has cooled enough to handle, use a fork to shred

Shredded Beef Tortilla Soup
Printable Version

1 large onion (I used vidalia) cut into large chunks
6 roma tomatoes cut in half
2 jalapenos (left whole)
1 poblano chili (left whole)
Salt and Pepper
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder or ground pasilla (I used ground pasilla)
1 tsp dried Mexican oregano (or regular oregano)
8 cups beef broth
1 - 14 oz can diced tomatoes
Juice from 3 limes
2 corn tortillas, cut into strips
1 cup corn (or a 14 oz can of whole corn kernels, drained)
1 - 14 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed.
2 lbs shredded, pre-cooked beef

Recommended garnishes: avocado, cheese, fried tortilla strips or chips, chopped onions, sour cream or Crema Mexicana, cilantro

Preheat your oven to 400' F. Place the onion, roma tomatoes, jalapenos, and poblano chili on a cookie sheet. Drizzle some oil over the veggies, sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper and roast for about 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool enough to handle.

Puree the tomatoes in a food processor and set aside.

Remove the stems and seeds from the jalapenos and poblano. Chop roughly, along with the onions.

In a large, heavy bottomed pot, heat about 2 tsp or so of oil and saute the jalapenos, poblano, onions, and garlic.

Add the cumin, chili powder and oregano. Continue to saute for another minute or so, stirring often so as not to burn.

Pour 1 cup of the broth into the pot, stir to de-glaze. Pour in the remaining 7 cups of broth, along with the can of diced tomatoes, the pureed tomatoes (that you set aside earlier), lime juice and tortilla strips. Allow to simmer for about 30 minutes.

If you have an immersion blender, put it use and puree the crud out of what's in the pot. Otherwise, work carefully as you puree it in batches with a blender.

Add the corn and beans, and heat through.

Now you're ready to serve it. Place the meat in the bowl, spoon the soup over the meat and garnish as desired.

Enjoy the heat. The layers of flavors...the smokey, the spicy....and everything that screams South of the Border....all in one bowl of delicious goodness.

And nooooooow...I promised a few short cuts for those of you who are not interested in spending the day in the kitchen or who just don't have the time.

Skip the whole roasting of the veggies section. Just saute them in the pan. If you don't want to saute the 6 roma tomatoes....then just add another can of diced tomatoes. That right there cuts out about 45 minutes of time. Use leftover beef. You know how hard it can be to figure out what to do with that leftover roast. Just shred it up.

Tip: If you can't find (or don't like) the store bought tortilla strips (they usually have them in the crouton section of your supermarket) then slice up some corn tortillas and deep fry them until crispy. It's one of my favorite garnishments for tortilla soup.

This recipe is being shared with Heather at Girlichef.com for the final days of her year long quest to explore all the different variations of Tortilla Soup


as well as the Tuesday Hearth and Soul Blog Hop

Hearth and Soul Hop at Premeditated Leftovers

And last but not least...I'm sharing this with Deb over at Kahakaikitchen.blogspot.com for her Souper Sunday extravaganza (which will post this coming Sunday).


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Lay's New Dip Creations aren't just for chips

About a month ago, I was the lucky recipient of a few samples of Tostitos and Lays Dip Creations. I received them through the Tastemakers program with Foodbuzz. I'm not obligated to write anything in particular or anything at all, but when you play with an ingredient that's fun, you want to share it with your friends, right?

So what exactly did I get? Well.....

2 Seasoning Mix packets each of Freshly Made Guacamole, Garden Onion, Country Ranch. All made with 100% natural ingredients.

So far I've played with the Freshly Made Guacamole and the Garden Onion. Based on the picture up top, what do you think I did with the Garden Onion? Did I add it to the patty? Did I coat the fries? Well, you're just going to have a wait and see.....cuz.....

I started off with the guacamole mix. Since the packet is just seasonings....and not actual avocado, I decided to marinate some chicken with a bit of oil and vinegar (or lime juice) and let it hang out in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or a few hours, soaking in all those lovely, fresh spices. I then grilled the chicken (yes...all by myself....which is always an adventure).

(I apologize for the horrible picture. I don't know what my issue was that day...probably frazzled from dealing with the bbq)

Then I proceeded to make the most yummy quesadillas ever!!

(and another horrible pic)

But seriously...with some sauteed onions and bell peppers...a few slices of avocado and lots of cheese....not to mention the wonderfully tender and succulent chicken....this was one mighty tasty quesadilla.

Just a note....if you're taking the time to fire up the grill to cook the meat, do yourself a favor and grill the quesadillo as well. It adds such a wonderful flavor!

Of course I did use the other packet to make actual guacamole.

Quick and easy with wonderful results! All you need are the avocados. The Dip Creations does the rest. Not too spicy for those who like it mild. If you want heat....add your own :)...I'm sure the avocado won't mind.

Please, don't buy the pre-made guacamole in the deli section of your grocery store. It rarely tastes anything at all like guacamole (seriously). If you don't like guacamole, it could be because you've only had that processed, flavorless, weird stuff that comes in a plastic container. Even the texture is funky. If you ever see it at a party.....run away....fast. Don't let your lips or chips come in contact with the stuff. Grocery store brand, pre-made guacamole is that bad!

Promise me....if you're not going to make it from scratch....at least buy a packet of Lay's Dip Creations Freshly Made Guacamole mix, a few avocados, and smash them all together. Stick it in the fridge for an hour and enjoy. It's that simple

Now...what did I do with Garden Onion packet.....

Did I add it to the burger patty?


Did I add it to the fries?


I added it to the bun! I made a small batch of No-Knead Olive Oil dough and tossed in the whole packet.

I was originally going to make focaccia. Add some grilled onions on top before baking. But I forgot. Or subconsciously changed my mind. I had some Italian Sausage that needed to be used so I thought I'd remove the casings and make them into burgers.

So...I needed the buns.

This recipe is adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

2 1/2 cups lukewarm water
2 1/4 tsp yeast
2 1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp sugar
2 TB extra virgin olive oil
1 packet Lay's Dip Creations Garden Onion Seasoning Mix
3 1/4 cups unbleached bread flour

In a non-airtight container, with a lid, combine the water, yeast, salt, sugar, olive oil and Garden Onion packet. Add the flour and stir until combined. Do not knead. Cover lightly with a lid and let sit on the counter for 2 hours

I love seeing all that speckled flavor running through the dough.

Once the 2 hours are up,  you can either refrigerate the dough or continue on to make the burger buns. I find that it is a bit easier to work with if the dough is allowed to chill-out in the fridge first. It's not as 'sticky'.

Either way, you're going to work the dough into a ball by holding it in your hands and stretching the dough around to the bottom as your rotate it. Then divide the ball into 6 equal portions (about 3 oz each). Shape each portion into a ball as your did before, adding a small amount of flour if needed. Place them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and just barely flatten them a bit.

Cover with plastic wrap and a let rise for 40 minutes. (if you didn't refrigerate the dough, they only need 20 minutes to rise).

Preheat the oven to 350' (if you're using a baking stone...the preheat time is 30 minutes before baking. If no baking stone is used, you only need about 5 minutes to preheat).

Just before baking, brush the tops with melted butter. Bake for 20 minutes or until richly browned and firm.

As you can see, my buns didn't brown. I even let them bake a bit longer. The buttoms browned just fine but the tops decided to be a bit stubborn. I didn't stress over it much. Maybe my burgers can be considered "White Burgers"....turkey meat and pale buns. With a big ole slab of mozzarella cheese melted over that Italian Sausage patty....and some grilled onions in there....

Yes....it was a great burger....from patty to bun. I loved the addition of Lay's Seasoning Mix to the dough and plan on doing that again.

Thank you Lay's for this opportunity to play with your Dip Creations.

No, I have not forgotten about the Country Ranch. But you see....ranch dressing is my favorite. And I'm just going to use the 2 seasoning mix packets that I have to make just that....Country Ranch Dressing. To dip my fries in. To pour over my salad. Even to dip my pizza in. I am a true blue ranch dressing kinda gal.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Tuscan-Style Chicken Sandwich

Super easy....waaaaay yummy!

It even says so in the cookbook. In MY writing.

 This is one of those little Pillsbury Slow Cooker mini-cookbooks from 2004. Not only did I write "YUM" at the top of the page but I made notes at the bottom for me to try in the future. 

The recipe lists focaccia as the bread to use. Which is great....but ciabatta (and yes, I spelled it wrong in my notes but in my defense, at that time I had never seen the word 'ciabatta'...and had just recently discovered the wonderful bread). Wait..where was I? Ah....I was going to say.....ciabatta is a much better bread for juicy sandwiches such as this one. Also....the original recipe didn't call for any leafy greens such as lettuce or basil or arugula (all of which would be great additions). I happen to love alfalfa sprouts....so that's what I recommended to myself back in 2004. 

And had not made this sandwich since. Which was really dumb cuz it really is good.

Last weekend when I made my Sourdough Ciabatta.....thank God I remembered this recipe! It was perfect! Rustic, filling, yet fresh and flavorful....and and....just plain......YUM!

Tuscan-Style Chicken Sandwich

6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
2 - 3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped roasted bell pepper (or more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 TB pesto 
Your favorite sandwich bread, enough for 6 sandwiches (focaccia, ciabatta etc)
Slices of tomato
Alfalfa sprouts, or lettuce, basil, arugula...basically, your choice of greens (optional)

Put the chicken, garlic, red bell pepper and salt into your slow cooker and cook on low for 6 - 7 hours

Just before the chicken is done, in a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise and pesto. Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and shred with 2 forks, put back in the cooker (so you can mix it up with all the juices.

Assemble your sandwiches and enjoy!

Makes the perfect summer dinner served with your favorite sides. But to be honest....I was full without any sides. All I needed was a little cocktail.......

Peachy Sangria! If you'd like this recipe...which I'm sure you will...because it's delicious and goes down easy....I've posted it on the Cocktail Puppy blog, where you're bound to find lots of other wonderful cocktail recipes to choose from as well.

I've shared the Tuscan-Style Chicken Sandwich with Kahakaikitchen.blogspot.com


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sourdough Ciabatta

I am going on record here....to say that this is the best bread I have made thus far in my bread baking experience.

It was good....it was fun....and it has the biggest holes I've ever been responsible for (in bread. walls, pants, shoes...those don't count here).

Now...know ahead of time, that this recipe takes time and patience. And Sourdough Starter.

But also know....it's totally worth every minute, hour, day! And it makes 2 loaves. One to keep....and another...to keep giveaway.

You will want to get this started in the early evening. Say....around 5:00'ish. It will be ready the next day. For lunch if you're a super early riser. Or if you eat a late lunch.

Printable Version

18 oz (2 1/4 cups) starter
6 oz water
3 oz canned milk
1 TB oil
1 1/2 lbs (4 3/4 cups) flour
2 1/2 tsp salt

(I weighed my flour instead of measuring it in a cup.)

In a mixing bowl, combine the starter, water, milk, oil and flour. If you have a mixer with a dough hook, mix on low - medium speed for about 3 minutes. I did it by hand with a wooden spoon until everything was well combined for a little longer than the 3 minutes.

Cover and let sit for 20 minutes. Add the salt and then mix (on the lowest speed or like me, by hand) for 5 minutes.

The instructions said to put the dough in a folding trough. I don't have one. I used a large casserole dish....sprayed with a little non-stick cooking spray. It's a sticky dough. Here it will sit for the next 4 hours on the kitchen counter, covered with plastic wrap. But don't leave. At least for long. You have work to do every hour. Not hard work...but important work.

Once an hour, fold the dough, left to right, like a letter. And then side to side like a letter.

This is called the "bulk fermentation stage". Once the 4 hours are up (and I'm sure you're ready to go to bed, unless you're a night owl...in which case, your dough is ready to go to bed) place the dough in a bowl, covered lightly, and put it in the fridge overnight.

The next morning...wake up...yawn....stretch. Shuffle out to the fridge and place the bowl on the counter. Go back to bed or grab a cup of coffee and the newspaper. The dough will need to warm up a bit....which takes about 2 hours. Unless you have a proofing box, in which case it will only take an hour. I don't have a proofing box....so there it sat, on my kitchen counter for the full two hours. While I drank coffee. Started the laundry. Poked around on my Facebook Fan Page and did whatever else fluttered through my head that morning.

Once the time is up, thoroughly flour your counter surface and divide the dough in half. Set one aside (in the bowl works) while you form the first loaf.

Fold the dough over, just like you did when it was in the folding trough casserole dish. Since the dough is so sticky, keep your hands only on the floured parts. Keep in mind, that you are not kneading the bread. You are folding and forming. Do this a couple of times...you'll notice that the dough firms up a bit. Place the dough on a floured baking sheet (I used the back side of a cookie sheet....covered with parchment paper). Repeat with the remaining dough.

Cover lightly with plastic wrap and allow to proof for 1 - 1 1/2 hours.

You can tell with it's finished with the final proofing by poking it with your finger and seeing that it doesn't spring bag quickly.

Preheat your oven to 450' F when there's about 30 minutes left in the final proofing time.

Just before popping these beauties in the oven, "dimple"the tops with your fingers and then stretch the dough out a little bit, lengthwise.

I placed a roasting pan in the bottom of the oven and poured 1 cup of water inside (for steam) and baked for about 15 minutes. (I also had my baking stone in the oven.) Remove the parchment paper, turn the oven down to 425'F and continued baking, either directly on the cookie sheet or directly on your baking stone if you have one, for an additional 15 - 18 minutes....until your bread is a deep golden, reddish brown.

Allow to cool completely and there you have it....

Beautiful, light, airy, wonderful, fresh ciabatta bread. To eat any way you want. 

One of my daughters made herself a turkey sandwich

I used the bread for a special dinner sandwich....which I will share with you in my next post.
Stay tuned :)

This is my entry for the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop this week. Hop on over and see what  foods for the soul are cooking on other hearths.

Hearth and Soul Hop at the Hearth and Soul Hop Hub

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Fresh Tex Mex Corn Casserole

Corn is one of my favorite veggies. I love grilled corn, creamed corn...and just plain ole corn off the cob with butter, salt and pepper.

I especially love when corn is in season. Fresh, juicy, sweet corn.

There are a lot of ways you can make corn, but when the weather starts to heat up and bbq's and get-togethers by the pool with friends and family start filling up the calendar, this has become one of my go-to recipes.

Tex Mex Corn Casserole
Printable Version

1 medium onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp vegetable oil
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup sour cream
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup melted butter, cooled
1 - 4oz can of diced green chillies 
4 ears fresh corn 
2/3 cup  flour
1/2 cup corn meal
3 TB sugar
1 TB baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350' F. Spray a 13x9 casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray

In a medium pan heat 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil over medium low heat.  Saute the onions, bell pepper and garlic until tender.

In a large bowl, combine the egg, sour cream, whipping cream, 2 TB vegetable oil, melted butter and green chillies.

Cut the corn off the cob and then run the knife up the cob to release the remaining "milk"

Add corn to the mixture.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, corn meal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir to combine then add to the corn mixture.

Pour into your prepared casserole dish

Bake for 40 minutes. Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top and bake for an additional 10 - 15 minutes or until golden brown and the center is set.


If you'd like more ideas or more information about the wonderfulness of corn, visit FreshSuperSweetCorn.Com